Hey, if there’s only one book you can afford to read on the wine business, wine trade, wine making, wine traditions, commercial versus natural wines, and some of the greatest vintners on this earth, read Kermit Lynch’s 30-year-old travelogue on selecting his French wine portfolio.
First published in 1988, this is a story of candor, love of the vine, and decades-long incessant battle for the true and sincere fermented juice that brings together the sense of the place it was born in and the passion that old rustic village men put into it on their slopes and in their damp cellars.
Lynch, a renown US wine importer, discusses his views on the natural wines well before Marcel Lapierre and his buddies made it into a huge trend. He meets and talks to people like Aubert de Villaine, Henri Jayer, Hubert de Montille, François Raveneau, Aimé Guibert and the Peyraud family of Domaine Tempier. Hell, he even talks to Jules Chauvet before Jules Chauvet changed the mentality of the ravaged Beaujolais region and sowed the seeds of the natural wine movement.
He praises wines of elegance, finesse, nuance, balance, light alcohol, no filtration, low or no sulfur at all, over soul-less broad-shouldered bold oaky wines of 15% and above still in favor with the world press. Yet, in his epilogue to the 25th anniversary edition, published in 2013, he spares no harsh words towards badly made ultra purist natural wines, as you cannot sell defects for effects just for the sake of it being natural and raw.
A true visionary before his time.
Both energetic and erratic story by a prominent New York natural wine freak / journalist Alice Feiring was a quick read.
Flipping between her own winemaking experience with Sagrantino in Napa (good lord!), the story and ideology behind natural wines and key figures in the movement, and her own incessant tours of the Old World vignerons most of the folks probably never heard of, it’s a frank, non-linear story of passion, a labyrinth of cul-de-sac’s, and an ode to stomping and adding no sulfur.